Local Philanthropy Supports School Farm Project

Local agent teams up with corporate match program to fund school farm interns.

August 13, 2018 |

From left: Jennifer Scianna, Severson Learning Center director; Lizzie Niesen, intern; Adam Gunnelson, intern, and Dean Lund, donor and American Family Insurance agent.

Local philanthropy is an important element of rural economic development, and philanthropic investments can do wonders for small schools and their students. We are always pleased to share some of the good philanthropic work that is occurring in our Hub regions.

Cambridge, Wisconsin's Severson Learning Center is a unique 82 acre asset that promotes environmental and agricultural education. The Severson Learning Center (SLC) honors Oscar Severson who was born in Cambridge in 1896, the son of business man Louis Severson. He graduated from Cambridge High School in 1916 and is remembered as a good student and athlete. (The Historic 1908 School Building began as our K-12 building.) During World War I, he volunteered and served overseas. When he returned, he worked at several Cambridge businesses before joining the Cambridge State Bank, where he worked for the rest of his life. In 1948 he married his longtime sweetheart Mabel Guernsey, a nurse. The couple had no children. At the request of Mr. Severson, the property now known as the Severson Learning Center was given to the School District of Cambridge at the time of his death in 1989.

In addition to its traditional programs, the site will soon be home to the new Koshkonong Trails School, which will be a member of Teton Science Schools' Place Network Schools.

Dean Lund is an American Family Insurance agent with an office in Cambridge, and he is a longtime resident who cares deeply about his community. Each summer Dean teams up with the American Family Insurance DREAM program to make a substantial gift that allows the school district to hire summer interns who manage gardens, tend chickens, and do conservation work on trails and ponds.

The property contains a wide variety of outdoor classroom spaces where students can learn not only about farming and gardening but also about geology, the woods, and with a spring-fed glacial pond, wetland ecology. There’s also an orchard.

We invite you to learn more about this excellent project in this recent Cambridge News & Deerfield Independent feature.

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